When Working with Cloud Storage

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Written By Alpha J. McElroy

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The main challenges and mistakes encountered when moving corporate data to public cloud storage involve often unexpected costs, as well as subtle complexity issues that creep up unnoticed. How to avoid these?

A major mistake remains underestimating the costs of any cloud service, and storage service is no exception.

The reasons for unexpected costs are numerous. For example, fees continue to be charged after data deletion, for snapshots and unplanned, uncontrolled automatic storage increases.

Data retrieval fees are also a real problem. Most people know they exist, but it’s very difficult to calculate how much data will need to be extracted from the cloud in a given period of time. Then there are fees for moving traffic between services. This gradual buildup of the conditions required to provide services means that cost plans can be quickly overwhelmed.

To control costs, you need to bring in experts to guide you from the start and strictly follow deployment and cost guidelines.

The complexity of the cloud

One of the main advantages of the cloud, its seeming simplicity, often leads into one of the most common traps.

Public cloud storage is easy to use and can be provisioned quickly. As a result, it is often resorted to without careful planning, design and testing. It is usually assumed that these issues should be handled by a generalist IT professional. But cloud infrastructure is beyond his or her expertise.

To design a solution well, you need experts in a variety of subjects. One should thoroughly understand and plan for networking, access, high availability, performance and, of course, the potential complexity of the chosen cloud options.

Failure to assess cloud complexity can have greater consequences for cloud storage deployments than anything else. Allowing time for planning, design and implementation is important for success.

Challenges of moving data

Moving data is a major challenge for the entire industry. Data, unlike much else used in the cloud, has volume. And that means they can’t be moved with a simple command. You always need to consider its volume, the bandwidth of your links, and the distance separating you from the cloud provider.

Failure to correctly determine the volume of data poses a serious problem for businesses. You may find it difficult to back up your data in the cloud and determine the real time and cost of data recovery.

Since even simply moving data is difficult, a plan for getting data out of the cloud (an exit strategy) should be part of the design from the beginning. Otherwise, serious problems can arise in the future.

Integration with the cloud

In many cases, it makes sense to store data in the cloud. But that doesn’t mean abandoning your entire infrastructure in favor of the cloud. So how do you integrate cloud storage with your own infrastructure?

First, creating a secure and reliable channel to the cloud provider is a non-trivial task. One option is a direct channel, but it requires a significant cost to maintain and an entry point close to you.

If this option is not suitable, then a complex integrated set of VPNs, gateways, routers and DNS servers will be required. You will need to understand how it will affect performance. For example, how a delay of 20, 30 or 50 ms would affect application performance.

Second, you’ll have to think about management. Many features that are taken for granted in the enterprise are not available with cloud storage. So you’ll quickly find that the data you move to the cloud can’t be controlled, protected or managed in the way your enterprise requires.

How to avoid cloud-related mistakes

In conclusion, there are several common cloud storage errors. In most cases, these are interrelated mistakes. For example, the more data you have, the greater the complexity, security risks and costs, and the harder it is to move the data.

However, the most common mistake is thought to be misunderstanding the complexity of moving to cloud storage. Leaving its design, development and implementation to generalist IT can lead to one or more cloud storage mistakes.

Deploying any cloud infrastructure, including storage, is complex. You need to understand the organization of not only storage, but also networking, security and cost management. Great efforts should be made to ensure that cloud storage is as reliable, resilient and secure as any enterprise IT deployed in your own data center.